Components of a Balanced Exercise Program

To be healthy we all know that we need to do some form of exercise on a regular basis. But choosing what type of exercise we should be doing, how long should we be doing it for and how hard should we be working while we are doing it can be a little confusing? A complete fitness and exercise program should incorporate three basic components: Endurance (Aerobic), Flexibility, and Strength. Each of these components has specific guidelines, which govern their effectiveness.

Endurance, specifically Aerobic Endurance, is probably the most frequently participated in aspect of fitness due to its wide-ranging benefits. To be effective aerobic exercise should be optimally performed four times a week for 30 minutes or more at a training heart rate of 50-90%. People who are just beginning may need to start at 5 minutes and then gradually add time on until they reach 30 minutes or more. Exercise should be one that elevates your heart rate into your target range, is continuous in nature, and uses large muscle groups. Some examples of aerobic type exercise are Walking, Jogging, Running, Swimming, Bicycling, Stair Climbing, Rowing, Jumping Rope, Aerobics class, and Dancing.

For whatever reason Flexibility is one of the most often neglected aspects of a fitness program. We need to remember that muscles that lack flexibility do not move as well, which can restrict the movement of our joints and increase the risk of injury. Flexibility type exercise is best done when the muscle is warm. Warm muscles perform better. Active short duration flexibility exercises of 5-10 seconds, can be performed as part of a warm-up. Static flexibility exercises, where the exercise is held for longer duration’s, 30-60 seconds , should be performed at the conclusion of the exercise session.

Resistance training allows the body to retain and increase muscle mass. When we lose muscle mass we not only lose strength but decrease our metabolism. Increases in strength allow us to perform our everyday activities a little easier. Resistance training sessions can be performed two or more times a week and should incorporate all the major muscle groups. The amount of resistance and repetitions are dependent on what your over all goals are. The same muscle groups should not be exercised on successive days. Forty-eight hours rest should be given between strength sessions of the same muscle groups.

Each of these components is inter-dependent on the other and are necessary for a complete fitness program. They all can be incorporated into one exercise session. Contact your local fitness professional if you need additional assistance in organizing your program.